Mini-Task 2: Journey

Using the cameras that you have at home (or whatever method of mark-making you choose) document a journey.

The theme of ‘Journeys’ can be interpreted in many ways, and in a lockdown where travel is limited bear this in mind.

Do you want to document a journey, literally? A walk to the park, a drive to the shops or dash around a supermarket? Or something smaller like the journey from your bed to the bathroom in the morning. A journey can be anything that has a start, then some progression or motion, and finally an end point. Think, how could this be interpreted within our own mini Covid-restricted universes?

Have a look at street photographers, and documentary photographers whose work focuses in on those moments of movement and action when documenting ‘the everyday’.

Here are some examples of artists to look at:

Laura Reid
Gulnara Samoilova
Megan Kwasniak
Efrat Sela
Cat Byrnes
Emily Garthwaite
Peter Fraser

Beyond Photography there are many ways to interepret the concept of a journey, and here (below), Sandra Meech uses mixed media to represent ‘a walk over thick ice of Baker Lake’. Meech uses photography, drawing, painting, collage and stitching to embroider landscapes and nature and journeys:

Sandra Meech, Off the wall.

Guy Debord, below, was part of the group, The Situationists, who invented the term, ‘Psychogeography‘, an inventive method of exploring cities which encouraged pedestrians to move away from their usual, predictable trajectory. The idea is that these maps help people to enjoy the environment around them in new, playful and immersive ways.

Guy Debord – The Naked City, 1957
Larissa Fassler focusses on non-places to form “a succession of autonomous worlds” 

There is also the possibility of showing a journey in a metaphorical way. You could focus on the progression of time in the past year during the pandemic, the growth or your children and the things you’ve learned in the process. You could represent your own personal journey, or the journey of your family. You can also refer back to, or use old photos or footage in this task if you’d like to.

Bill Voila, Nantes Triptich, 1992 WARNING: This video includes footage of a woman in childbirth and a woman in her last moments before dying

Tracey Emin – Exploration of the Soul

Finally, you could look at the project in a conceptual way. The exploration of the theme ‘journey’ could be enough. Could you create a piece of work where the process was the actual art work itself.

Hamish Fulton
Richard Long, A line made by walking, 1967
Andy Goldsworthy

Send any works in progress or finished pieces which you’d like to share to or tag your pictures with #motherslifeinlockdown on Instagram.

By Anonymous

Serving up for one too many

I am a (hopefully temporary) single parent. I need to make food and activities suited to one adult and two kids. What I’ve realised is I’ve got a set of normal divisions I do for food every day – 6 sausages is 1.5 each, or 1 each for the kids and 2 each for the adults. A pack of 4 scones is one each. Four handfuls of rice and add one for the pot.

When I’m clicking through the Tesco order (still on his account because he booked the slots and texted me his passwords before they put him on the ventilator), I have to strip down and remove a ton of the items he had put in, which I now realise only he was really eating. 

Our apple consumption has plummeted – the kids like Granny Smiths and he likes a Braeburn. There’s a pile of Braeburns I’m trying to sneak in to people’s stomachs at any opportunity. Nobody likes the cheese and onion crisps in the variety pack. I need half the eggs, half the milk, and I don’t need any Bombay mix at all. 

The £40 free delivery limit is hard to reach now. We just don’t need as much. It’s another scratchy little reminder that everything is not normal at the moment. 

The non-optional nature of lone parenting seems to help make it more bearable. I’m not desperate to get out for a walk on my own the way I was when it was available to me. The whole thing is *so* unfair, that a small piece of unfairness like that doesn’t really register. You can’t spend the whole time staring into the abyss. 

Other people’s tubs

There’s a pile of tubs and Pyrex dishes in my hall. I’m trying to keep a mental list of what belongs to whom. 

People don’t know what they can do. Most often, those nearby respond by cooking. A friend who’s been through something similar told me early on ‘accept all offers of help and food’, which hasn’t been the worst plan, but it does mean you need to accept what you’re given, even if it’s far healthier than you’d make yourself, or contains ingredients I mostly struggle to get the kids to eat. How galling too, when they wolf something when it’s come from someone else’s kitchen they would never accept from mine. I watched on with barely concealed outrage last night as my youngest chomped through a pile of chicken and wild rice with fresh coriander. Coriander! 

People further away send hampers. We’ve had 5 hampers in 10 days. I’ve redistributed the chutney and wine – I’m not drinking, and we’re not chutney people. I’m sending a child to choose some biscuits to open, and we discuss what we like and dislike about them like entitled gastronomes. We fret about when we’re going to cook our own food. 

Of course I’m grateful and see my luck. Imagine doing this without a big group of friends and family trying to help. Imagine doing this without children to distract you from staring into the void.  So, I try to thank people ‘well’: I try to make it appropriate, not fall into cliches. It’s a small exercise in staying creative. 

Sometimes it feels like nothing helps. But really it all helps. Who am I to question the ‘quality’ or ‘appropriateness’ of the help people are trying to offer? What helps one day might not on another – it’s all so random. They’re not psychic, and even if they could read my mind, they’d find it such a jumble they’d need to sort through it with tongs and possibly a scuba mask. 

I’ve been in their position, and I’ve been absolutely rubbish at finding the right thing to offer. Because really what you wish is to make the bad situation go away. Make the sick relative better, make the depression or the cancer or the grief leave someone’s body. And you can’t do that so you make a lasagne. 

What it tells me is we are loved. That there’s a community around us. And if I can untangle my jumbled head a little, and ask people for things, most of them would sell their car to make it happen. 

By Akasha

Self portrait task

I became a mum at 12:43 on a rainy Thursday in October 2020, and I’ve never felt luckier. 

I found out I was pregnant a month before the first lockdown and was lucky that my manager suggested I start shielding, since the impact of COVID on early pregnancy was unknown. 

I was so lucky that I knew my midwife and she could do a home booking, I remember laughing with her about how surreal it was being on the other side of an appointment, being the one to answer all the questions instead of asking and explaining. 

I was lucky my partner was able to come to an early pregnancy scan a day before the ‘patient only’ rule came into force. Even though our baby was just a tiny bean, we were able to experience that together, as parents should. 

I was lucky that I had the support of my colleagues at appointments when my partner couldn’t attend. I was lucky the weather was so lovely, I spent most of those months gardening or reading in the sunshine. 

I was lucky to have an incredibly empowering water birth, that my baby was completely healthy, and I was home that night.

I’ve been so lucky to be surrounded by family during the second and third lockdowns, to have my mum in my bubble and the mountains on my doorstep.

Like most people becoming parents during COVID, my arrival into motherhood hasn’t been particularly ‘normal’.  I attended most appointments alone, there were months of isolation, no baby shower or showing off my bump, very few people have met my baby and grandparents watch him grow over FaceTime.  But despite knowing how hard life has been for so many with everything going on in the world, I’ve been so lucky.

By Hayley

I wear my hair in a scarf most of the time to hide how long its been since I found time to shower so this feels pretty representative of how a mother’s wellbeing comes last.

I’m a single mother to a 4 year old in reception. I have two jobs (though the second is my own business and I’ve not had any work since the end of Feb 2020) and I’m also at uni.

I have no familial support or bubbles.

I feel like any empathy for parents ran out in lockdown 1 and furlough is much less of a thing, or carries heavy subtext that furloughed staff are putting themselves in the redundancy firing line. 

I wake at 6am, do home schooling and try to find time for household chores amongst school and work meetings. Most days they’re timed in such a way that we don’t have time to go outside or cook lunch or dinner – toast and bananas are fuelling us through 2021.

At 8pm once my daughter is asleep my proper work day begins. I work until 3am, and have had to let my studies slide entirely so I can sleep for 3 hours.

I’m not coping and have been suffering hallucinations and migraines from lack of sleep and even in those 3 hours I find myself often stuck with insomnia and lie awake going over doubts about everything: how come I have no one? Why is my child being deprived of all social interactions and a decent crack at education? What will be the long term impact on her? And me?

I’m not able to keep my cool at all with my daughter the next day, and if I’m not shouting I’m wracked with guilt. They seem to be the only states I exist in.

By Georgina

I took this photo on Tuesday 5th January 2021, at around 13:00pm. 

The 5th January was the first day of lockdown number 3 in the uk, and it meant my two children had not gone back to school, and with such a last minute decision from government. Thrown into the deep end. 

It was also my first day back at work after two weeks off over Christmas. I expected it to be a busy day, and I had not been looking forward to returning to work because of that. I really needed to be concentrating on getting back into work mode.

I was happy that my children were at home, but in contrast to the first lockdown, there was now the sudden expectation to support children to homeschool. I attempted to juggle the first morning back at work, and the first morning of homeschooling two primary-age children, with growing feelings of anxiety, frustration, and despair. By lunchtime, everyone was angry and upset.

Nature is a big part of our lives anyway, and we are lucky to live on the edge of a town where we can access country walks within minutes of our home. We went for a lunchtime break, knowing it would make us all feel better. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. 

The effect on all of us was almost instantaneous. This imagine captures me in a moment of serenity; feeling the warmth of the sun, and feeling the comfort of it. I experienced a real sense of perspective, having left the stress of the house and the responsibility of work and homeschooling, to just BE. I vowed in that moment to accept my limitations as a person and a mother, and to not expect to be able to do it all. We have not had a morning like that since.

By Amy

“One more email”

My daughter is two. 

I work part-time as a children’s occupational therapist in and SEN school. I’m shielding because I have autoimmune disease and am immunocompromised.

There is no balance. Everything happens around my dining table.

There is nothing left to give, to my family, my child and too the families and children I work for. On my days with my daughter I wrangle a two year old, with no where to go, noone to see no connection, no buffer no headspace.

I am living and breathing caring responsibilities and I am suffocating. 

I took these pictures today, on a  non work day, while I tried to reply to overdue and late work emails, while I tried to juggle yet another thing.

By Priya

In response to the portrait exercise

Twenty twenty has felt more stagnant than most years, since lockdown began there has  been a general feeling of claustrophobia that I realise is totally relative.

We have enough space, very generous if you consider past generations all piled into a room or two or the many people who are living in technically overcrowded situations and yet the one dimensional situation with the same people day in and out can start to wear on you.

This picture was an attempt to break through a creeping apathy that is really familiar right now. I want to feel more present and alive so I tried moving in different ways – something I have been exploring for a while now in creative practice.

The photograph itself isn’t that well taken and there is clutter and blur but I think it shows spontaneity and dynamic motion which I both long for and know that is still possible if only in micro ways for the time being.  

Find Priya on Instagram

Or find her birth work here:

By Alison

Our son has always sat with me when I dry my hair. When he was a baby he lay in my lap and smiled when the warm air drifted over him, after baths he would sit on the potty wrapped in a towel while I dried his hair. 

He got older and used to lie behind me wrapped around me like a cat, he’s eyes quietly watching the reflection in the mirror. 

The same mirror (usually this dirty with hand prints etc) same hairdryer, same brush. 

Now, still when he hears the hairdryer he appears at our bedroom door and plants himself next to me. I asked him last week why he likes to be near when the hairdryer is on. He said it makes him feel warm and calm and that it helps him remember stuff. 

I like that. 

I’m not sure how much longer he will sit beside me while I dry my hair so I am going to love it and hold on to it for now as life is so full on right now but I like this reflection in our dirty mirror.

By Lorenza

I took this photo on a Tuesday morning early January. Tuesday and Wednesday are the days when I’m able to put in two full (long) days’ work as my husband can take the lion-share of home schooling and child caring. We’ve worked out how to be a good tag team by now, this second lockdown of school closure. I took this photo 10 minutes before I opened my laptop and begun my working day. 

Since March the 16th 2020, when as an office we decided to all move to WFH (even before the PM made the decent decision to call for a national lockdown), I’ve been working out of our bedroom. This little bedroom of ours has turned into my own little world too. 

I like the light here. It faces West so in the morning the light is gentle, never strong. We live in a townhouse and a higher bedroom level means when I look out of the window I stare into the trees’ canopies that line our boundary between our terrace row and the neighbours.

I see the changing seasons through these trees. 

I sipped the final sips of my tea by the time I took this photo.

I breathed deeply ready to begin the day. 

I reflected that I am feeling completely exhausted by now, emotionally and physically. 

This second or third (depending how you look at it) lockdown round, I face it not only with the fear of the virus ever present – actually worse than ever – but also with grieving for my father’s death. We were collateral damage to Covid-19. 

I reflect that my heart has never felt so heavier, so lost and so sad. 

The pink clip in my hair really pops out in this photo. My daughter gave it to me, it was in her coat’s pocket, from many months ago – before the whole pandemic happened. She had found it and asked me if she could keep it. We washed it and put it in her hair clips box. Then one day she said “you can have it mamma, it’ll go with your curly hair”. 
I hardly ever notice it normally.

I spend most of my working day nowadays in front of my laptop often in back to back online meetings. The little pink clip never features on there, hidden among my curls. 
But here in this self portrait it offers a little cheery, if not slightly jarring, pink “hello”. 

After I took this self portrait I turned my laptop on and left my little bedroom-turned-world only for loo breaks and for lunch, till I clocked off for dinner. 

And while on the one hand I’m feeling I’ve had enough of this routine, on the other this now feels familiar and safe. And the thought of resuming ‘normal’ life doesn’t appeal to me anymore. 

Nothing is as it was before that March 16th, 2020.